On another thread, I got into a discussion with a poster about whether the Episcopal Church as already been “excommunicated” from the Anglican Communion. Since this may be of interest to more people, I’m posting some info here.
For a summary of the current situation from a conservative Episcopalian point of view, see this article and the comments. This essay by a particularly thoughtful and learned conservative Episcopalian theologian sheds some further light.
Most relevantly, however, see this analysis by another conservative of the likelihood of Canterbury’s taking decisive action after Sept. 30, and his call for conservative Anglicans to be willing to act without Canterbury.
The best general site for info on the subject (again from a conservative point of view) is Kendall Harmon’s Titusonenine.
I hope this is helpful in providing a more accurate view of what is going on. It may be that the Episcopal Church will be excommunicated after Sept. 30 in some form. But so far the conservatives don’t seem that hopeful.
I’m somewhere between what the first article I cited calls a “Communion Conservative” and what several of the writers to whom I linked refer to as “moderate conservatives” or (dismissively) “institutionalists.” That is to say, no way am I going to be part of an “Anglican” church that doesn’t include Canterbury (not because I think Canterbury is essential to the True Church but because breaking from Canterbury is moving further into schism), whether it’s a conservative group or an excommunicated Episcopal Church. If the Episcopal Church is decisively kicked out of the Communion and a new, Anglican church is formed, I will probably go with it insofar as the local options available allow me to do so. If the reverse happens–the Episcopal Church remains clearly part of the Communion and the conservatives leave–I may stay with the Episcopal Church. Either way, joining the non-Canterbury version is almost certainly not an option; the alternative would be to leave Anglicanism for either Methodism or Catholicism (or possibly Orthodoxy).
Local circumstances play a huge role for me. I currently live in a “Windsor diocese”–that is to say, the bishop is in agreement with the Windsor Report, which called in the Episcopal church to repent of its election of Gene Robinson and abide henceforth by the consensus of the whole Communion in this matter–but not a “Network diocese.” That is to say, the bishop is not part of the group that is trying to form a new, conservative Anglican church. If the Episcopal Church is kicked out of the Communion, I don’t know what the bishop will do, and I’m not sure he knows either.
If I were to move to an area where the Episcopal Church were more liberal, I would be more likely to leave. But it would depend–the parish I beloned to in NJ was fairly liberal, and if I were to move back there it would be hard not to become part of it again.
I don’t see these questions of affiliation as the life-or-death issues many conservatives do. I believe in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Below that level, my main concern is not to break the bonds of communion in which Providence has placed me.
Thank you. I am in NJ as well. Im not sure where my episcopal church stands(where I grew up). I will be visiting my mom next week in St. Louis and visiting her episcopal church out there. Maybe I will ask her minister(a woman) where they stand.
I’m in northern Indiana now–a much more conservative diocese. Most of northern New Jersey is in the diocese of Newark, which is one of the most liberal in the country (John Shelby Spong, probably the most openly heretical bishop in the Episcopal Church, was the bishop of Newark until his retirement). The southern part is in the diocese of New Jersey (cathedral in Trenton), which is more moderate by the standards of contemporary Episcopalianism. I technically lived in the diocese of Newark but went to church in the diocese of New Jersey (it was actually the closest Episcopal church, right across the river in New Providence).
As a born-and-bred Episcopalian myself (currently in RCIA Catholic in California) I feel for you.
I was trying to think of the state of mind you must be in. It’s not confusion, at least I don’t think it would be. I would think it would be more like wondering, but with sort of an undertone of worry. But of course I could be wrong and I would not presume to speak for you.
Whatever it is you are going through, I am sorry for your suffering. I wish, for you, that your concerns will be resolved and if there are any “worst fears” that they come to naught.
Yeah I agree so it will be interesting to say the least to visit.
My siblings will be there as well and they are much more verbal about being against a woman minister. I am closed minded in that I believe in Christ alone and some other biblical beliefs but I go into situations with an open ming and try not to be too judgemental and be positive. Ill have to let you know how it goes.
I would say all of NJ is liberal:( . All of the catholics I know are pretty liberal as well–compared to the catholics here anyway. My minister says this is the toughest state to evangelize to because they are so liberal. Being a conservative born again christian here is tough but I take up my cross daily.
I have a friend in Indiana and they are definitely more conservative there.
I think that it is fair to say that the current crisis or “troubles” in the Episcopal Church date back to the election and consecration of V.G. Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. Of course, those with longer and more sophisticated perspectives on these issues (such as GKC) would probably point back towards the ordination of women in the 1970s or other examples of the Episcopal Church deciding to walk a different path from historical orthodoxy. Still, since 2003, the story has been:
(i) outrage by conservative Episcopalians in the USA supported by conservative Anglican Bishops from primarily “Third World” countries,
(ii) attempts by the larger Anglican Communion to steer the Episcopal Church back into the Anglican mainstream and to preclude any futher unilateral acts by the Episcopal Church (and the Canadian Church for that matter) that would harm the Anglican consensus, and
(iii) for the most part, defiance on the part of the Episcopal Church to any efforts by the Anglican Communion to circumscribe the Episcopal Church’s freedom of action. This defiance seems to be based on two justifications: (a) resentment by the Episcopal Church of what it believes to be interference by the Anglican Communion in the internal operations of an independent Church, and (b) the belief that God is “doing a new thing” vis-a-vis Bishop Robinson and the role of practicing homosexuals in the Church. In the later regard, the Episcopal Church as a whole (conservatives excluded) believe that they are acting boldly on the “cutting edge” of social justice and theology on this issue.
So what will come of this? The same thing that came from the meeting of the Primates in Ireland, of the Windsor Report, of the Episcopal Church’s response to the Windsor Report, of the meeting in Africa…nothing from the standpoint of the Episcopal Church. The Church has made it quite clear that it will not reverse direction here. That being the case, it will be up to the Anglican Communion to enforce what it believes to be Anglican–to declare, if you will, that the Episcopal Church falls outside of this definition. In my opinion, the Anglican Communion does not have the backbone to make such a declaration…so things will just continue to muddy along as they have for the last four years and more.
Meanwhile, with the consecration of Bishops in America by African Anglican Churches we will slowly have a growth of Anglican type Churches that are formally outside of the Anglican Communion. Unfortunately, the history of the “alphabet soup” of these Churches “getting their act together” to work together for a common cause is pretty poor. (No offense GKC).
Excellent post, and no offense taken, my friend. I agree. I fully expect orthodox Anglicanism, in the form I understand it, to fracture itself into extinction, in my lifetime. And, I agree, it is highly unlikely that, even on this one subject of homosexuality, the official Anglican Communion, per se, will lift a finger, after 30 Sep. Personal opinion.
And yes, I date the decay as from the period of the Prayer Book controversy, in the early 70s. And mark the fatal step with the placing of females in sacerdotal garments. So by the time of Robinson, the damage to the Catholicity of official Anglicanism was already done.
posterus traditus Anglicanus
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